Tag Archives: Book

Review- The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story- by Douglas PrestonĀ 

(By: Steve Michaels- Denver, Co. 12/26/16)

   Nonfiction offers its own unique reading experience as opposed to most fiction. Whereas a fiction story is carried by the author’s ability to weave a compelling narrative and pepper it with enough facts and details to make it interesting and believable, a nonfiction writer has to do just the opposite. Armed with as many facts, data, personal accounts, and other bits of information that their research provides, the writer has to compile these in a way that doesn’t sound as if they are writing an encyclopedia article, or a school textbook (unless, of course, that is their goal. I’m specifically talking about nonfiction that is written more for entertainment, as opposed to something written as a clinical or educational piece).

   The Lost City of the Monkey God, also known as The White City, has been a staple of Honduran folklore for generations. This city was said to be a place of refuge and a storehouse of treasures for the indigenous peoples during the time of the Spanish conquest of the area. There are rumors of a deadly curse that guards the area, one whose existence is bolstered by strange happenings and often inexplicable occurrences surrounding those that have gone to look for the lost city.

  Undeterred by this, in 2012 author Douglas Preston joined an expedition to the rain forest of southern Honduras to map areas of interest using a relatively new application of a laser imaging technology called Lidar, which bounces 100,000 individual laser pulses per second off an object and records distance in a way much like radar does with sound. It can be used to penetrate gaps in dense foliage to model a map of what’s below. This generated map offered sufficient evidence for the mounting of a second expedition in 2015, which Preston also joined. This time they were headed in on the ground, with the hopes of using the aerial maps to ‘ground truth’ their findings. Preston details his journeys in his gripping newest release “The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story”.

   Preston’s background as a writer for such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker, mixed with his prowess as an engaging bestselling author of page turning thrillers makes for an extremely informative yet harrowingly engrossing read. In a narrative that feels like an excerpt from the adventures of Indiana Jones, Preston chronicles the expedition as they deal with corrupt governments, drug cartels, jungle animals, the unforgiving environment, parasitic diseases, and pretty much any other staple of hellish condition known to man. 

   The motley crew that comprises the expedition make up one of the most eclectic group ever brought to page, in fiction or nonfiction. Preston does an amazing job of bringing their personal motivations and drive to bare, as well as each of their diverse personalities. A personal favorite was the foul mouthed, corpulent, murdering, drug smuggler named Bruce Heinicke. Let’s just say that if it had been him that Greedo had cornered in the Mos Eisley Cantina, well, there would be no question as to who shot first.

   Time spent in the jungle and the repercussions of gave Preston ample motivation for rumination. While reflecting on the lessons to be learned from the past, Preston looks into our future as a species and how our actions as a society can and will affect us on a global scale; culturally, socially, and environmentally, as evidenced by the example of the echoes of past civilizations that lie buried and forgotten.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is available everywhere 1/3/2017

 

  Very special thanks to Caitlin at Hachette Book Group and Grand Central Publishing for the advance copy!

   

Review: Beyond the Ice Limit

   I finally finished Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s newest offering, ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’, the existence of which, as far as I know, was initially confirmed in an interview that I did with the authors a few years ago regarding their novel ‘White Fire’. 

   ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’, while a double sequel (in that it is not only a direct sequel to 2001’s ‘The Ice Limit’, but also holds the title as the newest entry in their ongoing ‘Gideon Crew’ series), does an amazing job setting itself as a standalone read. Knowing the backstories of the characters would definitely help make a faster bond with them, but overall the book does a good job of making those connections independently. 

   As always, Preston and Child craft a story that touches on multiple genres, without feeling confused about itself. ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’ captures the mood of the most Crichtonesq scifi-techno-thrillers, while weaving in details that echo the most clinical of Robin Cook novels, doing all this in an environment that could very happily reside on pages penned by Tom Clancy.    

   If you’re into action, adventure, excitement, or anything else that a Jedi doesn’t crave, then snag a copy of ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’ wherever books or ebooks are sold. If you’re too cheap for that, support your local library and find a copy there!

   

Book Review: The Lost Island- A Gideon Crew Novel

There are two things that a novel needs to do to maintain my interest. First, it needs to make me think. Secondly, it needs to make me feel. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s newest thriller, “The Lost Island”, delivers on both counts.

Preston & Child’s latest release hits all the high points of its equivalent, the summer blockbuster movie. With equal parts action, intrigue, suspense, romance, and wonder, the story maintains a breakneck pace without ever feeling like it is tripping over it’s own feet.

I’d like to be able to say that if you’ve never read a Preston & Child book before that you can dive right in on this newest novel and catch up on the backstory later, but in all honesty if you were to do that you would be cheating yourself out of a large portion of the ride.

“The Lost Island” is the third book in a series centered around the terminally ill art-thief-turned-physicist Gideon Crew. Unlike Preston & Child’s other brainchild, FBI Special Agent Pendergast, Crew is an extremely fallible, emotionally driven character. His flaws and idiosyncrasies are the things that attach you to his story. These are well played out in “The Lost Island”, taking the emotional investment that is earned in the previous two novels and catapulting it to ever higher plains.

One of Preston & Child’s other strong suits is their ability to craft a story around a real life event, myth, or technology and do it in a way that doesn’t take a whole lot of fanciful thinking to be able set reality aside for a bit and enjoy the literary adventure. “The Lost Island” makes use of this device in respects to a well known classic tale, weaving history, reality, and fantasy together in a way that doesn’t disappoint.

If you’ve already read the first two “Gideon Crew” novels then I suggest you waste no time losing yourselves in the pages of “The Lost Island”. If not, I strongly suggest picking them up first and properly enjoy the journey.

“The Lost Island” is set for release on 8/5/2014 and will be available wherever books and ebooks are sold.

Check out the authors:
www.prestonchild.com